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The Station | 2013 TIFF Review

Copy Creature: Kren’s Sophomore Feature a Hybrid Derivative

Marvin Kren The Station PosterFollowing his Berlin set zombie debut Rammbock, Austrian director Marvin Kren returns with The Station, an eco-horror-ish creature feature which was originally titled Glazius, now saddled with a downgraded vagary of a title that neither exudes originality or menace. Likewise, the film immediately establishes itself as a curious amalgamation of classic genre titles, with several of its select scenes blatant copies of memorable sequences from other films, most notably, John Carpenter’s The Thing (and no, Kren doesn’t seem to be making a meta statement by giving us a copy of a copy of a copy). While the film isn’t a complete misfire, its ever so light creature twist isn’t enough to make this memorable, and unless you’ve had the misfortune of never seeing anything else in the same vein, the film won’t really feel satisfactory as it’s not up to par with genre bests, even if it manages to be better than similarly themed direct to DVD fare like The Thaw.

At a remote weather station in the Alps, Gerald (Gerhard Liebmann), a curmudgeonly technician serves an unprecedented fourth tour in the isolated mountaintops which serves his introverted behavior quite well. Sharing a work station with three scientists and his pet dog Tinnitus, they discover a strangely retreating glacier secreting a reddish liquid substance that contains some kind of freaky deaky compound affecting the genetics of the local flora and fauna in terrifying ways. Any DNA mixed with the compound creates hybrid creatures that randomly develop as a mix of whatever it has come into contact with. Really, this discovery is bad timing because a local government minister is on the way to the station for an official visit, so the scientists hope to keep this little doozy a secret so the minister won’t inform the public and cause a furor. But just as the minister and her crew arrive, bringing with them Tanya (Edita Malovcic), a scientist who had a past romantic relationship with Gerald that didn’t seem to end on good terms, all hell breaks loose.

Kren and screenwriter Benjamin Hessler get a lot of mileage out of creating a host of characters that are distinct in their own bitchy ways, and The Station manages to coast along without any major missteps, the kind of film people love to call “old-fashioned” or with a “classic” narrative. These are merely euphemisms to describe the majority of a film that treads familiar territory but still manages to keep one’s attention. There are a few gross out scenes, but more spectacular flourishes directly borrow from The Thing and even Alien. Brigitte Kren manages to be a delightful scene stealer in the film’s second half as she morphs from clinically cold minister to ultra-effective killing machine, but even as it features likeable, believable, and real looking characters, it’s not enough to compensate for the tired concept. While the film’s monster is a hybrid of whatever it comes in contact with, so is Kren’s film a hybrid of what’s come before.

Reviewed on September 6 at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival – Midnight Madness Programme.
93 Mins

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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